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Abstract Project-Based Coursework in a Naval Architecture Curriculum

By Paul H. Miller


Studies have shown the benefits of incorporating design projects into engineering courses. These projects allow the students to directly apply the course topics in “hands-on” applications, while also providing the students opportunities to develop group project skills. In the small field of naval architecture little has been written of these projects. This paper presents the details of five courses using this approach in the Naval Architecture and Ocean Engineering Department (NAOE) at the United States Naval Academy (USNA). The first course is the major’s introductory course for sophomores where after seven weeks each student submits the specification, calculations, lines plan and construction drawings for a towing tank model. These plans are then turned over to another student to build and test. The second course is a junior-level structures course focusing on ship structures. The students design a full midship section. The final three courses are at the senior-level and include an elective in marine fabrication methods and two capstone design courses. In the fabrication course small student groups design, build, perform QA/QC tests and proof-test a series of components in metal, reinforced concrete and composites. This course focuses on the benefits of design-for-manufacturability and instills this approach through the actual time it takes the students to design, build and document their group projects. The capstone courses include a fall semester class that has each student prepare the preliminary design of a specific small vessel. During the spring semester student groups prepare preliminary designs of a vessel of their choice. It is the department’s hope that these projectbased courses provide the students with a better understanding of the complete ship design process. Positive feedback on student evaluation forms indicate the students enjoy the approach and alumni comments indicate they feel the approach is worthwhile

Year: 2009
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